of the Rings - (Music)
This song has an Eastern tone that is unlike any other song
in the books except for the Wight's
Chant, which is a variant of it. In "Shadow of the Past,"
Gandalf is reluctant to utter the words of this chant aloud,
suggesting that there is power in the words. Sauron may have
spoken these words during the making of the One Ring. Celebrimbor
may have heard them when, during the making of the Ring, he realized
the treachery of Sauron. (Illustration: The
Dark Tower and The
Old Walking Song - (Music)
This is a variant of a song spoken by Bilbo at the end of
The Hobbit, where the key phrase is "Roads go ever
ever on" rather than "The Road goes ever on and on."
Bilbo sings it softly to himself in the dark in "A Long-Expected
Party." Frodo speaks it in "Three is Company."
When Pippin asks if Frodo is reciting some of Bilbo's poetry,
Frodo says that he doesn't know, that it came to him as if he
was making it up. There is also another version in "Many
Partings." Curiously, the music for this song is used in
"Old Walking Songs"
in "The Grey Havens," where the words are variants
of "A Walking Song"
and "The Wandering Elves'
Song." (Illustrations: The
Shire, and The
Green Hill Country)
According to "Three is Company," Bilbo wrote the
words to this song, but put it to a tune that is "as old
as the hills," and taught it to Frodo. It was 'hummed"
by the Hobbits starting out with Frodo as an alternative to a
"supper-song." Some of the words to this song are sung
to the tune of "The Old
Walking Song" in "The Grey Havens." (Illustration:
Wandering Elves' Song
This song is sung by Gildor and several other Elves in "Three
is Company." Elbereth (Star Queen) or Githoniel (Star Kindler)
is Varda (the Exhalted), the wife of Manwe, the "God"
of Wind and Eagles. Varda created new and brighter stars to provide
light for the Elves when they first appeared in Middle-earth
after the destruction of the Lamps and before the making of the
Sun and the Moon. The "Sunless Year," the time before
the coming of the Sun and the Moon, which was probably many thousands
of years, was the time when the Elves first made their appearance.
Because the Elves originally lived in a world lit by starlight,
they have a preference for silver, grey, and other moonlight
colors and a special reverence for Varda (her close association
with Manwe, the leader of the Valar, is, of course, probably
also a factor). "Snow White" is an English translation
of the word "Fanilos." Sam spontaneously calls to Varda
in "a language which he did not know" in "The
Choices of Master Samwise." Some of the words in this song
are part of "Old Walking Songs"
in "The Grey Havens." Technically, the Valar were not
gods and they are only referred to twice as such in The Silmarillion,
by Bereg in "Of the Coming of Men into the West" and
by the author of the "Valaquenta" in "Of the Valar":
". . . and Men have often called them gods." Despite
a reluctance on the part of Tolkien to refer to them as gods,
they sometimes functioned in the trilogy and other published
works as gods in a Greek or Roman sense. For example, wind from
the west brings hope by suggesting the presence of Manwe. Likewise,
the activities of the Eagles in The Silmarillion, The
Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings are direct interventions
of Manwe. In terms of Tolkien's mythology, however, there is
only one god, Iluvatar, the One, who existed in a transcendental
sense outside of Middle-earth. The Valar prayed to ("called
upon") the One when Ar-Pharazon "set foot upon the
shores of Aman," bringing about the separation of the Blessed
Realm from Middle-earth (by changing Earth from flat to round).
The downfall of Numenor began when Sauron convinced Ar-Pharazon
to worship Melkor. Being more careful than their ancestors, the
Gondorians in "The Window of the West" have reduced
prayer to a moment of silence facing west before meals, looking
"towards Numenor that was, and beyond to Elvenhome that
is, and to that which is beyond Elvenhome and will ever be."
Jared Lobdell argues in his book England and Always: Tolkiens
World of the Rings that Tolkien intended Middle-earth to
be part of a Christian universe in which Christ had not yet come
and avoided using the word God in a way that would conflict with
his Christian beliefs. Curiously, although Lobdell refers to
the One as "God" (capital G) and to Gandalf as an angel,
he, perhaps inconsistently, refers to the Valar as "the
gods" (small G). These concerns about religion and the exact
status of the Valar result from the fact that, like the author
of Beowulf, Tolkien is a Christian author of a pre-Christian
work. (Thanks to Michael
Martinez for corrections on this comment.) (Illustrations:
with the Elves and Manwe
This is a minor song which is interrupted by the cry of a
Nazgul in "A Short Cut to Mushrooms." Although it is
a drinking song, Sam and Pippin are merely singing about drinking,
not singing as they drink. Like the references to pipe weed,
this song is now politically incorrect. Nevertheless, it is a
pleasant and harmless tune about an activity that humanity has
engaged in throughout known history. (Illustration: At
the Prancing Pony and At
the Sign of the Prancing Pony)
This delightful song is sung by Pippin while taking a bath
in Crickhollow in "A Conspiracy Unmasked." According
to the text, it was one of Bilbo's favorite "bath-songs."
Whether it was a traditional song that Bilbo liked or one that
he personally wrote remains unclear. The song recounts the virtues
of hot water in comparison with rain water, stream water, ice
water, and fountain water. Amazingly, hot water wins in all categories except one.
Beer is said to be better than cold water for pouring down the throat and hot better for pouring
down the back. (Thanks to Andy Behrens for a correction on this comment) (Illustration:
Song (Farewell Song of Merry and Pippin) - (Music)
This song is sung in Crickhollow in "A Conspiracy Unmasked"
by Merry and Pippin the night before they enter the Old Forest.
Because the song is said to be "on the model of the dwarf-song
that started Bilbo on his adventure long ago" and is sung
to the same tune, it is safe to assume that it was written by
Bilbo as a variant of that song. The original song can be found
in the first chapter of The Hobbit. The key connecting
phrase is "We must away ere break of day." (Illustration:
in the Woods
Frodo sings this song in "The Old Forest" to encourage
his companions. However, he produces the opposite effect because
he stops singing before reaching the end of the song with "For
east or west all woods must fail." I suggest the following
as a possible upbeat punch line: "And there we'll find a
pint of ale!" The Hobbits were having difficulties in the
woods in part because of a tree called Old Man Willow, who was
probably a Huorn. According to Merry in "Flotsam and Jetsam,"
who got his information from Treebeard, Huorns were "Ents
that had become almost like trees." He adds, "They
still have voices, and can speak with Ents - that is why they
are called Huorns, Treebeard says - but they have become queer
and wild. Dangerous. I should be terrified of meeting them, if
there were no true Ents to look after them." Luckily, the
Hobbits in the Old Forest soon had Tom Bombadil to help them,
who could also speak or sing to such creatures. In "The
Road to Isengard," Legolas remarks that the Ents and the
Huorns are "the strangest trees that I ever saw." Gimli
responds, "Let us leave them! I guess their thought already:
hatred of all that walk on two legs; and their speech is of crushing
and strangling." Given the obvious danger of Huorns, perhaps
the Hobbits can after all be forgiven for falling prey to a tree.
Apparently, Old Man Willow had become so tree-like that he could
no longer walk and had to lure his potential victims to him.
Tree creatures who could walk, ents, were occasionally seen in
the Shire. In "The Shadow of the Past," Sam in a discussion
with Ted Sandyman in the Green Dragon brings up "these Tree-men,
these giants, as you might call them," who reports that
"one bigger than a tree was seen up away beyond the North
Moor not long back." This one was "walking seven yards
to a stride, if it was an inch." (Illustration: Old
Man Willow, Old
Bombadil and Goldberry, Old
Man Willow, and Old
Tom Bombadil is perhaps the most enigmatic and controversial
being in Middle-earth. He finds it difficult to speak without
eventually bursting into song. Moreover, he uses his songs to
control his environment. When Tom hears that the Hobbits are
having trouble with Old Man Willow, he responds that he knows
the song for him, which he then uses to free the Hobbits. The
songs that Tom sings in the Lord of the Rings are variants
of a long song in another book of poetry, The Adventures of
Tom Bombadil, the title song for that book, which recounts
various of aspects of Tom's life and his marriage to Goldberry.
That song in ATB is followed by a second of approximately
equal length: "Bombadil Goes Boating," in which Tom
travels to the Shire to visit Farmer Maggot. For a full discussion
of Tom, see my essay "Who
is Tom Bombadil?" which includes links to other views
as well. Tom's song is structurally connected to Legolas's
Song of the Sea. Compare, for example, "Can you hear
him singing?" in Tom's song with ". . . do you hear
them calling?" in Legolas' song. Presumably Legolas' song
is sad and wistful while Tom's in upbeat, powerful, filled with
explosive energy and humor. Tom is first heard singing in "The
Old Forest," he continues "In the House of Tom Bombadil,"
and is last heard in "Fog on the Barrow-Downs." According
to the Lord of the Rings, for the purposes of the index,
all of Tom's singing is the continuation of one song. Nevertheless,
pieces of this song are separately indexed as "Song to Goldberry"
and "Tom's Summons." In The
Music of Middle-Earth, I use a selection from "The Old
Forest" and "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil":
beginning with "Now let the song begin. . . ," turning
to the first full stanza of "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil,"
continuing in "The Old Forest" with ""Hey!
Come merry dol! derry dol! My darling!" and concluding with
"Hop along, my little friends, up the Withywindle!"
The first two lines from "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil"
are heard "In the House of Tom Bombadil" as Tom tends
the horses in the stable and Frodo asks Goldberry, " Who is
Tom Bombadil?" (Illustrations: Bombadil,
the House of Tom Bombadil, In
the House of Tom Bombadil, Goldberry,
This song, heard in "Fog on the Barrow-Downs," is
closely related to the Verse
of the Rings. According to "The Hunt for the Ring"
in Unfinished Tales, the King of the Nazgul visited the
Wights just before the Hobbits ventured into the barrow-downs.
The Barrow-wights served the King of the Nazgul during the Third
Age, when he was known as the "Witch King of Angmar"
and masterminded the collapse of the Kingdom of Arnor, once a
realm of the Numenorians with a status equal to and in some respects
higher than that of the Kingdom of Gondor. The Wights were probably
originally human, but as Wights, they were evil spirits. The
Witch King sent them to the barrows in 1636, at the time of a
terrible plague. The Wight's chant goes beyond the conflicts
of the Second and Third Ages, back to the wars of the Valar with
Melkor (Morgoth the Enemy). The failure of the Sun and the death
of the Moon would mean the destruction of two vessels and the
killing of two Maiar, Airen who guides the Sun, the last fruit
of Laurelin, across the sky and Tilion who steers the Moon, the
last flower of Telperion. According to "Of the Sun and Moon
and the Hiding of Valinor" in The Simarillion, the
Sun and Moon were made after the poisoning of the Two Trees to
aid the Elves and hinder Morgoth. The stars were made by Varda
before the beginning of the wars with Morgoth. The sea and the
land were created by Ulmo and Yavanna respectively with the aid
of Aule the Smith. If the dark lord were to lift his hand and
destroy them, he would accomplish Morgoth's original purposes
before the beginning of days. The last of the Dunadain of Cardolan
took refuge in the Barrow-downs (Tyrn Gortad) when Amon Sul or
Weathertop fell to the Witch King in 1409. According to "The
North-kingdom and the Dunadain" in Appendix A, the mounds
of Tyrn Gorthad were built in the First Age by the "forefathers
of the Edain." They were revered by the Dundain who also
buried some of their own kings there. The mound in which Frodo
was held prisoner may have been the burial place of the last
prince of Cardolan. (Thanks to Michael
Martinez for corrections on this comment.) (Illustration:
Barrow-wight's Mound and The
Song at Bree
Frodo sings this song while dancing on a table in the bar
in Bree "At the Sign of the Prancing Pony." Before
finishing an encore performance, he falls off the table and disappears
with the help of the Ring. The song can also be found in The
Adventures of Tom Bombadil, where it is called "The
Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late." In the preface of ATB,
the editor notes that in the Red Book of Westmarch the song is
said to have been written by Bilbo. This song is presumably the
uncorrupted original of the nursery rhyme, "Hey! Diddle,
Diddle, the Cat and the Fiddle." It contains the full story
of the courtship and elopment of the dish and the spoon and also
helpfully reveals how a cow is able to jump over the moon. (Illustration:
Disappears and Frodo
in the Prancing Pony)
Riddle of Strider
This poem, which first appears in a letter from Gandalf in
"Strider," is used in "Strider" and in "The
Council of Elrond" to verify Aragorn's status as a friend
of Gandalf's and as a claimant to the throne of Gondor respectively.
Yet, in "The Council of Elrond," Bilbo whispers to
Frodo that he made the poem up himself "a long time ago
when he [Aragorn] first told me about himself." This prophecy,
however, could just as easily have applied to each of the previous
fifteen chieftains of the Dunadan after the fall of the Kingdom
of Arnor and to Aragorn's descendants if it had remained unfulfilled.
The poem is closely related to Boromir's
Riddle and would presumably be put to similar music. (Illustration:
in Bree and Elessar)
Fall of Gil-galad - (Music)
This sad song, sung by Sam in "A Knife in the Dark,"
recounts the death of Gil-galad, the last of the High-elven kings
in Middle-earth. Bilbo taught Sam the song. The song is incomplete
because Sam decided not to learn the part about Mordor, which
frightened him. The words "But long ago he rode away, and
where he dwelleth none can say" are somewhat confusing.
These words could be a better applied to an account of the fate
of Earnur, last King of Gondor, who rode off to engage in single
combat against the King of the Nazgul and never returned. His
unsettled fate established the line of Stewards "until the
King comes again." In contrast, Gil-galad's fate was well-known.
He and Elendil fell at the end of the Second Age fighting Sauron
on the slopes of Mount Doom. After his death, Cirdan the Shipwright
ruled in the Grey Havens in Lindon, which was no longer a kingdom,
but rather a departure point for Elves sailing to the Uttermost
West. The final line of the song cannot refer to any mystery
about the afterlife of Elves, for that matter, unlike the afterlife
of humans, was also well-known. When Luthien died, for example,
in "Of Beren and Luthien" in The Silmarillion,
her spirit fled to the halls of Mandos in the Uttermost West.
Presumably, Gil-galad went there as well. See the final pages
"Of the Beginning of Days" for more discussion of the
differences between humans and Elves regarding life and death.
(Thanks to Joumana
Medlej for corrections and additions to this comment.) (Illustration:
Recalls the Host of Gil-galad)
of Beren and Luthien
Aragorn sings this song to the Hobbits by a campfire in "A
Knife in the Dark." Beren and Luthien are the two most important
figures in The Silmarillion. They were the ones who took
a Silmaril from the crown of Morgoth. Although it is not explained
in the text (see "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen" in
Appendix A), Aragorn's personal life is similar to that of Beren's.
Like Beren, Aragorn is a human who is in love with an Elven princess.
Arwen Evenstar, like Luthien, will have to give up her immortality
when she marries Aragorn. In The
Music of Middle-Earth, I use an old British folk tune, "The
Cruel Mother," as the basic melody, providing a much better
"origin" for that piece of music. (Illustration: Luthien,
Escapes the Treehouse, Beren
and Luthien, Morgoth
the Enemy, and Dancing
Rhyme of the Troll
Sam sings this song in "Flight to the Ford" after
explaining that "It ain't what I call proper poetry."
The poem also appears in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
under the title "The Stone Troll." In the preface,
the editor notes that according to the Red Book, the song was
written by Sam Gamgee. When Sam finishing singing, Pippin states,
"I've never heard those words before," and after Sam
mutters "something inaudible," Frodo replies, "It's
out of his own head, of course." Sam and the other Hobbits
left Tom Bombadil's house on September 28, 3018 and performed
the song on October 18, giving him twenty-one days to compose
the words. The occasion of the song is a visit to the place where
Bilbo had an adventure with Trolls in The Hobbit, who
were turned to stone. Sam's composition is the third adventure
for Tom Bombadil, the first being "The Adventures of Tom
Bombadil," in which Tom eventually marries Goldberry, and
the second being "Bombadil Goes Boating," in which
Tom visits Farmer Maggot. (Illustration: The
Stone Trolls, Trollshaws,
Maggot with Frodo)
This song was written by Bilbo and performed the night before
"The Council of Elrond." Aragorn helped polish it up
just before the performance. According to the preface of The
Adventures of Tom Bombadil, the poem was originally a "nonsense
rhyme" called "Errantry," which Bilbo then rewrote
as the story of Earendil. Earendil was a human who traveled to
the Uttermost West to seek help from the Valar against Morgoth
the Enemy in the First Age. Although his mission was ultimately
successful, because humans were not permitted to enter the Blessed
Realm, Earendil was not allowed to return to Middle-earth. Instead,
he was put on board of a ship that is now the star Venus. Earendil
was the father of Elrond. He had difficulty reaching the Uttermost
West because the Valar were trying to prevent the return of the
Noldor, who had broken the Ban of the Valar by returning to Middle-earth
to war with Morgoth. Light from this star was captured by Galadriel
using her mirror and given to Frodo as a parting gift in "Farewell
to Lorien." Frodo used the Phial of Galadriel in "Shelob's
Lair" and called to Earendil ("Aiya Earendil Elenion
Ancalima") as he did, although he "knew not what he
had spoken." The light of the star is from the Silmaril,
which Beren and Luthien
recovered from Morgoth in The Silmarillion. Like their
children, Elrond and Elros, and Elrond's daughter, Arwen Evenstar,
Earendil and Elwing had to choose as Half-elven whether to become
Elves or Humans. (Illustration: Earendil
in Flight, Earendil
the Mariner, and Earendil
Boromir discussed this riddle in "The Council of Elrond."
The riddle came to Faramir, the younger son of Denethor, in a
dream many times. His brother, Boromir, who claimed to have received
the message once, undertook the journey north when Faramir asked
his father for permission to seek for Imladris. The riddle is
closely related to The Riddle
of Strider. Isildur's Bane is the One Ring. The Hafling is
Frodo. The "Sword that was broken" is Elendil's sword,
which broke when he and Gil-galad
killed Sauron at the end of the Second Age. Because Faramir,
unlike his brother, had no difficulty overcoming the temptation
of the Ring when he met Frodo and Sam in Ithilien in "The
Window on the West," Boromir most likely would have been
spared his moral downfall and might not have died had he not
insisted on taking Faramir's rightful place on the journey to
Rivendell. Denethor later rejected his son because he did not
steal the Ring.
of Winter - (Music)
Bilbo recites this poem in "The Ring Goes South"
to emphasize Frodo's situation: that he can't wait for spring
and so must venture into the wild in winter as soon as possible.
According to the preface of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil,
the poem is "Bilbo's," presumably indicating his authorship.
The poem is recorded in the Red Book and in the margin of that
page is the following piece of "nonsense," most likely
also written by Bilbo:
"The wind so whirled a weathercock
He could not hold his tail up;
The frost so nipped a throstlecock
He could not snap a snail up.
'My case is hard' the throstle cried,
And 'All is vane' the cock replied;
And so they set their wail up."
Anger of the Mountain, and Caradhras.)
This song, sung by Bilbo in "The Ring Goes South,"
expresses Bilbo's sadness that he is too old to go on another
adventure and write another book. The most quoted lines are:
"in every wood in every spring / there is a different green."
Bilbo also thinks about both the past ("people long ago")
and the future ("people who will see a world / that I shall
never know"). This song is thematically related to the various
walking songs, particularly "The
Old Walking Song." In that song, the doorstep is said
to be the beginning of the road to anywhere. In this song, the
doorstep is a place of return, where one listens "for returning
feet / and voices at the door." (Illustration: Bilbo
in Rivendell, and Frodo
Gimli Gloin chanted this song in "A Journey in the Dark"
in the city of Dwarrowdelf or Khazad-dum in Moria, an underground
complex of caves and tunnels. It recounts the building, the glory,
and the fall of this Dwarf community. According to Part II of
Appendix A, "Durin's Folk," there were six Dwarf kings
in Moria named Durin. The first was Durin the Deathless, who
earned this name because of his very long life. He was the ancestor
of all of Durin's Folk and the founder of the Mines of Moria.
The other five Durins were so like him that they were considered
to be the original Durin reincarnated. The last line of the song
refers to the expected seventh reincarnation. The downfall of
Moria came, as Gandalf put it, when the Dwarves "delved
too greedily and too deep, disturbed that from which they fled,
Durin's Bane." It was a Balrog, a servant of Morgoth the
Enemy, that had been hiding at the roots of the mountain since
the end of the First Age. It was called Durin's Bane because
it killed Durin VI and routed his people from their underground
community. Durin the Deathless was the eldest of the Seven Fathers
of the Dwarves, created by Aule the Smith in "Of Aule and
Yavanna" in The Silmarillion, and was therefore the
first Dwarf. (Thanks to Michael
Martinez for corrections on this comment.) (Illustration:
Balrog, and Flight
of Nimrodel (Music by Russell Valentino)
This song, sometimes called the "Song of Amroth,"
recounts the sad story of Amroth and Nimrodel. Legolas sings
it by a waterfall on a stream named after Nimrodel in "Lothlorien."
In "Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn" in "The
History of Galadriel and Celeborn" in Unfinished Tales,
Amroth is said to be the son of Galadriel. However, in "Amroth
and Nimrodel" in the same chapter, he is the son of Amdir.
Amroth was the King of Lorien before the arrival of Galadriel,
who was then the ruler of Eregion, where the Rings of Power were
made. Although Nimrodel loved Amroth, she would not marry him
unless he took her to a land free of war. After setting out for
the Bay of Belfalas, to take ship to the Uttermost West, they
were separated in the White Mountains. Unable to find her, he
journeyed on to Belfalas. Taking ship reluctantly, Amroth changed
his mind, threw himself into the sea, attempted to swim back
to Middle-earth, and was never seen again. The fate of Nimrodel
is still unknown. (Illustration: Cerin
Lament for Gandalf
This song, which was written and performed in "The Mirror
of Galadriel," is apparently the only one that we know of
specifically written by Frodo, although he did once imagine that
he was the author of "The
Old Walking Song." The song took shape in Frodo's thought
as he sat beside the fountain of Lorien in "The Mirror of
Galadriel." It is his tribute to Gandalf, whom he believed
had been killed by the Balrog in Moria. When Frodo repeated it
to Sam, he could not remember the whole song, "only snatches
remained, faded as a handful of withered leaves." The final
stanza was written by Sam to call special attention to Gandalf's
skill with fireworks. (Illustration: Gandalf,
Bridge of Khazad-Dum, and Gandalf
Fights the Balrog)
Galadriel sings this song from her Swan-ship in "Farewell
to Lorien," as the Company of the Ring (the Nine Walkers)
are about the begin their canoe trip down the Anduin River. The
early part of the song recounts Galadriel's influence on Lorien,
perhaps with the aid of one of the Elven Rings of Power. After
speaking of the decline (coming winter) of Lorien, the song concludes
with the following lines:
But if of ships I now should sing, what ship would come to
What ship would bear me ever back across so wide a Sea?
These lines refer to Galadriel's special status in Middle-earth.
Galadriel came to Middle-earth with the Noldor, who broke the
Ban of the Valar (not to do so), in order to try to recover the
Simarilli from Morgoth the Enemy. Although, according to at least
one account in "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn"
in Unfinished Tales, she had just been given permission
to make a visit to Middle-earth, the Valar later ruled that she
too had broken the ban. At the end of the First Age, all Elves
who asked forgiveness were allowed to return to the Blessed Realm.
Galadriel alone refused to beg forgiveness, probably feeling
that she had done nothing wrong, and afterward the ban applied
to her exclusively. Because she passed the test, by not attempting
to steal the One Ring from Frodo, she was permitted at the end
of the Third Age to return to the Uttermost West without apology.
She begins this journey in "The Grey Havens," traveling
to Valinor with Elrond, Frodo, and Gandalf. (Illustration: The
Ring of Galadriel, Lothlorien,
to Lorien, Galadriel
in her Swan Boat, and The
Mirror of Galadriel)
According to "The Departure of Boromir," Aragorn,
Legolas, and Gimli Gloin disposed of the body of Boromir by sending
it over Rauros Falls on the Anduin River in a canoe. Aragorn
and Legalas then sang this song. Aragorn sang the first and third
stanzas, inquries to the west and north winds respectively. Legalas
sang the second, an inquiry to the south wind. Gimli Gloin declined
to sing of the east wind. This special care, with Frodo and Sam
lost and Pippin and Merry being carried away by Orcs, shows the
high regard that the three remaining members of the Company of
the Ring had for Boromir, the heir of Denethor, Steward of Gondor.
Their concern was important for political reasons because Aragorn
was a rival for the throne of Gondor, who would claim the kingship
and who, if successful, would end the line of ruling stewards.
Indeed, according to "The Stewards" in Appendix A,
Aragorn, under the name Thorongil, had been regarded in Gondor
as a rival of Denethor, before he became Steward. However, because
the composition of the song would presumably have taken some
time, when there was much else to do and lives were at stake,
it seems unlikely that this funeral actually occurred. More likely,
Legolas and Aragorn polished up these verses when time permitted
as they pursued the Orcs carrying Merry and Pippin away. According
to Faramir in "The Window on the West," Borormir, his
sword, horn, and the Elven canoe survived the falls and the canoe
carried Boromir off down the Anduin River to the Sea. Faramir
considered his vision of Boromir on the river to be a real event:
"Dreamlike it was, but no dream, for there was no waking."
of the Kings, The
Falls of Rauros, The
Death of Boromir, The
Funeral of Boromir, and The
Death of Boromir) Response: Nancy
of Gondor - (Music)
Aragron sings this song in "The Riders of Rohan"
as he enters Rohan, which is a part of Gondor that was given
to the Rohirrim when they came to the aid of Gondor about five
hundred years earlier. According to "The Stewards"
in Appendex A, Aragorn served King Thengel of Rohan before traveling
to Gondor proper to serve Ecthelion II under the name Thorongil.
His time in Rohan and Gondor earned him support in Gondor on
both sides of the civil war, Kin Stife, which was a struggle
between those who loved the land and those who love the sea.
In Rohan Aragorn established his prowess on land; in Gondor he
engineered important victories over the Corsairs at sea, before
returning to the Wild in the North. (Illustration: Aragorn
Enters Rohan and The
Chase of Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli)
Long List of the Ents
Treebeard in "Treebeard" hums his way through this
song, trying to figure out what kind of creatures Merry and Pippin
are. When it becomes clear that Hobbits are not in the list,
Pippin recommends "Half-grown hobbits, the hole-dwellers."
Treebeard actually made up a new line of his own, which he revealed
in "The Voice of Saurman": "and hungry as hunters,
the hobbit children, the laughing folk, the little people."
Since this song is in Westron (Merry and Pippin can understand
it), it was probably composed by the Elves for the Ents after
they discovered them and started talking to them. (Illustration:
Treebeard chants this song to Merry and Pippin in "Treebeard"
on the way to Wellinghall. He sings about parts of Middle-earth
that were cast under the sea at the end of the First Age. The
song is in two parts. The first part is an appraisal of various
regions. It ends when Treebeard finds one so wonderful that "My
voice went up and sang in the sky!" Presumably there should
be a pause between this line and "And now all those lands
lie under the wave." With this short lament, Treebeard briefly
mentions the places where he now walks, with special emphasis
on his own forest. (Illustration: Treebeard,
and Pippin Meet Treebeard)
Ent and the Entwife
This song, sung by Treebeard in "Treebeard," is
in the Westron because it would be too long in Ent language. It
is an argument between an Ent (the male of the species) and an
Entwife (the female of the species) over how they should lead
their lives. Because the Ents preferred wildlands and the Entwives
agricultural lands, the Entwives left Fangorn Forest and crossed
the Anduin River to conduct agricultural experiments in what
is now called the Brown Lands. When the Ents went looking for
their wives, they could not find them and ever after they spent
time searching for them. The sighting of an Ent is discussed
by Sam and Ted Sandyman in the Green Dragon at Bywater in "The
Shadow of the Past." According to Tolkien, in his Letters,
the Entwives were killed during the second war against Sauron
in the Second Age (The Last Alliance of Elves and Men), in which
Sauron attacked Gondor and then was forced back into Mordor,
where, after a long siege, Saurons body was slain by Gil-galad
and Elendil and the ring cut from his hand by Isildur. Presumably
the Entwives were killed when their agricultural fields were
burned as part of a scorched earth policy, creating the Brown
Lands. (Special thanks to Michael
Martinez for calling serious errors in this comment to my
attention.) (Illustration: Treebeard
with Merry and Pippin and Fangorn
Bregalad laments in this song the loss of his favorite stand
of rowan trees while entertaining Merry and Pippin in "Treebeard"
during Entmoot, a very long discussion among the Ents about what
they should do. He is also known as Quickbeam because he answered
a question before one of his elder's finished asking it. (Illustration:
Ents' Marching Song - (Music)
This is the song that the Ents sing in "Treebeard"
as they march to Isengard to war with Saruman. This march is
similar to the march of a forest on a castle in "Macbeth,"
the only play of Shakespeare that Tolkien liked. The battle of
Eowyn and Merry against the King of the Nazgul in "The Battle
of the Pelennor Fields" is a second Macbethian similiarity.
In "Gondor and the Heirs of Anarion" in Appendix A,
Glorfindel declared, "Far off yet is his doom, and not by the
hand of man will he fall." Macbeth, who could not be killed
by a man born of woman, was killed by a man born by Caesarean
section. The Nazgul died likewise at the hands of a woman or
a Hobbit, depending on how one looks at the matter. (Illustration:
Galandriel sends messages to Aragorn and Legolas via Gandalf
the "White" in "The White Rider." The message
to Aragorn refers to Aragorn's upcoming trip through the Paths
of the Dead in "The Passing of the Grey Company." This
message is closely related to Malbeth
the Seer's Words. Legolas' message warns him that if he goes
near the sea, he will develop a desire to go on to the Uttermost
West. This longing develops and is revealed in Legolas'
Song of the Sea," which he sings in "The Field
of Cormallen." According to the last page of Appendix A,
Legolas followed his heart and left Middle-earth after the death
of King Elessar (Aragorn) - and he took Gimli Gloin with him.
Gimli, disappointed that there seems to be no message for him
from Galadriel, is consoled with an unrhymed message that Gandalf
probably invented on the spot. (Illustration: Gandalf
the White, Galadriel
Mirror of Galadriel)
of the Rohirrim - (Music)
This poem is chanted by Aragorn in "The King of the Golden
Hall" in the language of the Riders of Rohan. He then provides
this translation in the Common Speech. As Aragorn explains, the
rider is Eorl the Young who brought the Rohirrim to the defense
of Gondor five hundred years earlier. His horse was named Felarof.
A short account of Eorl can be found in "The House of Eorl"
in Appendix A. A much more detailed account is available in "The
Ride of Eorl" in "Cirion and Eorl" in Unfinished
Tales. A picture on woven cloth of Eorl on his horse during
the Battle of the Field of Celebrant was hanging in the throne
room of Theoden. (Illustration: The
Golden Hall, The
Riders of Rohan, and The
Oath of Eorl the Young)
Song of Lorien
Gandalf sings this song softly in defense of Galadrial during
argument with Grima Wormtongue in "The King of the Golden
Hall." It is hard to imagine how the Rohirrim could have
concluded that Galadriel was their enemy, since she helped them
on their ride from the north during the time of Eorl, according
to "The Ride of Eorl" in "Cirion and Eorl"
in Unfinished Tales. Yet, even Eomer speaks badly of her
in "The Riders of Rohan" when he meets Aragorn, Legolas,
and Gimli on the plains: "Few escape her nets, they say.
These are strange days." (Illustration: Lothlorien)
of the Rohirrim
Theoden chanted this cry in the tongue of Rohan raising Eomer's
sword above his head in "The King of the Golden Hall."
It signifies Theoden's recovery from the influence of Grima Wormtongue
and Saruman. In " Theoden's
Battle Cry," with very similar wording, Theoden shows
his willingness to honor his oath to Gondor. (Illustration: Wormtongue,
Theoden, and Eowyn)
Riddle of the Ents
Gandalf chants this poem while speaking with Theoden about
Ents in "The Road to Isengard." Introducing the poem,
Gandalf states that Ents are "a power that walked the earth,
ere elf sang or hammer rang," signifying that Ents appeared
in Middle-earth before the Elves and the Dwarves. This short
poem is a structural variant of "The Hoard" in The
Adventures of Tom Bombadil: "Ere pit was dug or Hell
yawned, ere dwarf was bred or dragon spawned. . . ."
Rhyme of Lore
Gandalf sang this rhyme as he and Pippin rode across the plains
of Rohan in "The Palantir." Pippin, curious about the
Palantir thrown from Orthanc, touched it and ended up speaking
with Sauron himself. To spare Pippin from further temptation,
so that he could remain an "honest fool," Gandalf took
him along on his ride to Gondor. Gondorians generally stopped
looking into the Palantiri after one fell into the "hands"
of Sauron for fear that they would be corrupted by him. Saruman
looked and was corrupted, if he is wasn't already. Denethor was
not corrupted, but was fed misinformation about the situation
of Gondor that caused him to fail morally through pride and despair.
Only Pippin and presumably Aragorn, who revealed himself to Sauron
through the Palantir, came away unharmed, although Aragorn's
controversial talk with Sauron did prompt an immediate full-scale
attack on Minas Tirith. "Tall ships and tall kings"
refer to the Faithful who returned to Middle-earth at the time
of the destruction of Numenor. "Seven stars" refers
to Elendil, the leader of the Faithful, and his heirs, representing
the single star of each of the seven ships of the Faithful with
a Palantir. These stars later appear on a flag unfurled by Aragorn
on the Corsair ships in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields."
The "seven stones" refer to the Palantiri, communication
devices given to the Numenorians by the Elves. The "White
Tree" was a fruit of Nimloth stolen by Isildur from the
King's Court of Numenor, which was then planted in Minas Ithil.
Nimloth was a seedling of Celeborn, given to Elros (Elrond's
human brother and the first King of Numenor) by the Elves of
Eressea. Celeborn was a seedling of Galathilion, the White Tree
of the Eldar, a model of Telperion, made by Yavanna. Telperion
was one of the Two Trees of Valinor, created by the Yavanna and
Nienna. The light of these two trees, which interacted in a twelve-hour
cycle, was captured by Feanor in the three Silmarilli, which
were then stolen by Morgoth the Enemy. The White Tree of Minas
Tirith (earlier known as Minas Anor) withered at the end of the
Third Age. In "The Steward and the King" Aragorn found
another sapling of the line of Nimloth and planted it in the
city. The discovery of this tree by Aragorn was taken as a sign
of renewal in Gondor and most importantly of the marriage of
Arwen and Aragorn. (Illustration: The
Ride of Gandalf and Pippin, The
White Tree and Saruman
with the Palantir), and Yavanna
Sings Under the Two Trees
Song and Gollum's Riddle - (Music)
Gollum sings this song at the beginning of "The Passage
of the Marshes." Although "Gollum's Song" and
"Gollum's Riddle" appear as separate poems in the index
to The Lord of the Rings, I consider them to be two stanzas
of the same rough song. Consider that the final two lines of
"Gollum's Song," unspoken by Gollum, are obviously,
"to catch a fish, so juicy-sweet," the final lines
of "Gollum's Riddle." Indeed, "Gollum's Riddle"
is only a riddle because Gollum elects not to sing the last two
lines of "Gollum's Song." This riddle is tied to the
riddles of "Riddles of the Dark" in The Hobbit,
where it is noted that riddles were the only game that Gollum
had ever played when he was still a Hobbit and had someone to
play with. Interestingly, there is another fish riddle in The
Hobbit. This riddle game was the mechanism by which the One
Ring moved from Gollum to Bilbo. (Illustration: Gollum
Sam "speaks" this "poetry" to Gollum at
the end of "The Black Gate is Closed," when he asks
him if Oliphaunts (elephants) exist. Sam refers to it as "a
rhyme of the Shire," "nonsense, maybe." The poem
appears in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, but no new
information is provided about it. The editor merely notes that
Sam said in The Lord of the Rings that the song was "traditional
in the Shire." Gollum's response to Sam's question is "No,
no oliphaunts. . . . Smeagol has not heard of them. he does not
want to see them. he does not want them to be." Nevetheless,
an Oliphaunt does appear at the end of "Of Herbs and Stewed
Rabbit." (Illustration: An
of Harad. The
Sam, and Gollum in Moria)
the Seer's Words - (Music)
In "The Passing of the Grey Company," rangers from
the north arrive together with Elladan and Elrohir, who bring
a message from their father, Elrond: "Bid Aragorn to remember
the words of the seer and the Paths of the Dead." In "Gondor
and the Heirs of Anarion" in Appendix A, Malbeth is said
to have predicted that Arvedui would be the last king of Arnor
(Arthedain) and that Earnil would be the last king of Gondor.
The Dead swore allegiance to Isildur, but then broke their oaths.
Their aid to Aragorn against the Corsairs of Umbar ultimately
fulfilled these oaths. This poem is closely related to one of
Galadriel's Messages. The
Stone of Erech was a large black stone brought to Middle-earth
from Numenor at the time of its destruction. (Illustration: The
Paths of the Dead and The
Stone of Erech)
This song, which appears in "The Muster of Rohan,"
could better be called "The Ride of Theoden" rather
than "The Lament of Theoden," since Theoden is in his
glory and suffers no harm in it. "[T]he songs of Rohan were
busy [with this ride] for many long lives of men thereafter."
This ride parallels the ride of Eorl the Young earlier in the
Third Age, who brought his people unexpected to a Gondorian battlefield
and at the moment of direst need helped route the agents of Sauron.
This song and The Mounds of
Mundberg most closely approximate the northern musical tradition
in Europe in the Dark Ages. See my essay, "Music
in Middle-Earth." (Illustration: Theoden's
Army on the Way to Dunharrow and The
Ride of the Rohirrim)
This cry in "The Ride of the Rohirrim" is a varient
of Theoden's "Call-to-Arms
of the Rohirrim." The battle cry reveals Theoden's determination
to honor the oath of the Rohirrim whether he and his army are
too late or not. As in "The King of the Golden Hall,"
Theoden appears to overcome both his age and doubt. (Illustration:
Espies the Serpent Banner, and The
Battle of the Pelennor Fields)